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I read this book in three nights. My eyes burned, I knew I was going to be tired the next day, but still I was compelled by Cheryl’s story to keep reading.
This autobiographical story follows Cheryl as a young woman who loses herself after her mother's untimely death from cancer. After spending over a month watching her mother, who was her lighthouse, waste away, she leaves her side to bring her brother to see her one last time and her mother dies in her absence. Cheryl is unmoored in a sea of self-destruction.
She tries to drown herself in illicit affairs, and even heroin. After her divorce, the idea of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail starts to gnaw at her.
Her time on the trail alternates between giving her a break from her mental anguish and forcing her to confront the tribulations of her life. The rigors of the trail causes her outward suffering just as she had suffered inwardly for years. It becomes a pilgrimage. And although she ends up basically destitute, homeless and alone—you see her not as poor, but as unburdened.
I do not like much of what Cheryl does during this story, but I admire who she becomes, and the unflinching way in which she tells her story.